These days, Harry Shearer is best known as the voice of a plethora of characters on The Simpsons — he’s been at it for 27 years. However, he also had a fairly high profile gig before that, playing bassist Derek Smalls in the 1984 rock mocumentary This Is Spinal Tap — which he also cowrote, along with the music on its soundtrack. Together with Christopher Guest, Rob Reiner and Michael McKean, he’s generally viewed as one of the film’s creators. And based partially on all of that, he’s suing copyright holder Vivendi, alleging that they owe him $125 million in royalties.
According to The Guardian, the lawsuit has been filed in California’s Central District Court. Vivendi, which owns Universal and StudioCanal, acquired the rights to This Is Spinal Tap 27 years ago, and according to Shearer, he and the other co-creators haven’t been getting their fair share of the profits. “This is a simple issue of artists’ rights. It is stunning that after all this time, two cinema releases, all the various home-video format releases, all the records and CDs, and all the band-themed merchandise still widely available worldwide, the only people who haven’t shared Spinal Tap’s success are those who formed the band and created the film in the first place.”
Meanwhile, here’s a video which Shearer recently slapped up on Twitter:
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) October 18, 2016
Some interestingness: the lawsuit claims that Vivendi has reported the total income for Spinal Tap merchandise between 1989 and 2006 at eighty-six dollars, and total income for the soundtrack series over the same timespan at ninety-eight dollars. Shearer’s lawsuit alleges fraud and asks for Vivendi’s ownership of copyright for the film to be taken away.